- Purchase/rental options available:
Reading, observes Leah Price, is an “activity against which the social defines itself.” How odd then that, during the last sixty years or so, we have witnessed such a proliferation of social reading—in person, out loud, and in public. Literary readings, reader’s theater, chamber theater, docudrama, found-text performances, etc.—together they constitute a newly prominent genre I call “bookish performance.” Highbrow and low, avant-garde and mainstream, theatrical and extra-theatrical, these performances are nonetheless united by a shared aesthetic goal: not to dramatize literature, exactly, but to theatricalize the (inward) experience of reading. As such, they offer a thrillingly sensuous archive of our reading: its phenomenology, its ideology, and its sheer, idiosyncratic variety. They render palpable (and comparable) the subjectivity of our reading imaginations. They even allow various theories of reading to interact before our eyes.